World War 1-who was to blame? World War 1 broke out when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in 1914, whose organization implicated members of Serbian military. For this reason, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, supported by Germany. This triggered chain reaction, nations in Europe declaring war on the other nations, which, with in a month, caused Europe to turn into a battlefield.
The Great War was ended, when the Treaty of Versailles and several other treaties were signed in 1919 and Germany was fully held responsible for causing the war. But it is not justified, that Germany, and Germany alone, should be held responsible for the outbreak of the war, even though her military expansion, nationalism and imperialism have built tension throughout Europe. It was not only Germany who wanted to expand their empire or wanted to be the world power and also, the entangled alliance system was another cause of the war, and additionally, made the war ineluctable.
Germany’s new Kaiser’s, Kaiser Wilhelm II, ambitious of Germany becoming the world power (nationalism), envying the British navy and her colonies, has immensely expanded the military, both navy and army, causing tension and, eventually, arms race between nations in Europe. The naval arms race was the so called the Anglo-German arms race, between the Great Britain and Germany. In the early 20th century, a new generation of battleship was invented, the British ‘Dreadnought’. The arms race begun when the German navy responded to the British Dreadnought with their Nassau class in 1907, followed by the Helgoland class in 1909. German ships were constructed in 1908, which made the British navy nervous, fearing that the German fleet would soon become invincible. Since than, the naval arms race begins between Germany and Great Britain. Germany’s act of building a vast fleet has threatened the British Empire, fearing Germany’s fleet would invade their colonies, which Germany rejects, claiming that their intension is just to protect their growing trade. Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, notes that for Britain navy is important as the army is for Germany. Why does Germany need a vast navy?
Increasing the navy would increase Germany’s prestige and influence but it is a very threatening act against Great Britain, matter of life and death, for their colonies are threatened. So, the expansion of military in Germany, in particular the navy, has frightened the Great Britain, causing them to take a defensive measure. Other than militarism, nationalism has played a great role in World War 1. Nationalism was another cause of war, for it meant being a strong supporter for one’s country, which many of the European population was willing to be.
After the Franco-Prussian war, the loss of Alsace-Lorraine made the French people angry, and also desperate to gain that territory back. Also, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where the empire was fragmented with different ethnic groups, the ethnic groups wanted independence. But the Serbs, for example, wanted more territory, because about 3 million Serbs were living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and they wanted to join Serbia. Other ethnic groups, such as the Czechs, wanted a new, independent government for themselves.
Other example of nationalism is the German people who wanted their country to become a world power. If the German population did not care about colonizing, or was not willing to, imperialism would not have existed, which was another cause of the Great War. Imperialism was one of the key causes of World War 1, which has grown animosity between other nations. Before the war, the European countries were fighting over territories in Africa, for gaining colonies meant gaining nationalism, becoming a world power. This caused minor but influential conflicts between some countries.
For example, the incidents in Morocco, both in 1905 and 1911, were between France and Germany, France trying to invade Morocco, Germany supporting Morocco’s independence. It ended up with a conference, in which the German Kaiser humiliated and tensions were built. In 1911, France tries to take over Morocco again, so Morocco requests support. What happens is because the British did not want German ships in the Mediterranean, and was afraid that Germany would going to build a fort on the coast, another conference was called, and France takes over Morocco, but as compensation, Germany was given land in central Africa.
This creates animosity in Germany towards the French and the British, because Germany lost against the French, failing to protect Morocco. German imperialism, the Kaiser’s ambition of over sea empire, and nationalism, the thought of Germany being the world power, has caused militarism, expansion of her army and navy. The three elements were the causes of World War 1 but what has made the war inevitable was the alliance system that existed at that time. The alliance system, which at that time was used to prevent any war, has caused this huge war when Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, and making it ineluctable.
This proves that the blank cheque that was given to Austria was reasonable, for Austria was Germany’s ally, and as allies, they should support each other. The same was done with Russia with countries in the Balkans. As Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war on Serbia, Russia mobilizes her army and prepares her troops to help the Serbs to protect themselves from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Germany, supporting the Austrians, demands Russia to halt the preparation. Germany declares war on Russia and moves some of its troops towards Belgium and France.
France mobilizes and gets ready to fight Germany. After declaring war on France, Germany invades Belgium, but Britain demands Germany to withdraw from Belgium. As Germany rejects to withdraw, Britain declares war on Germany. So, as a result, Austro-Hungarian Empire’s declaration of war on Serbia has ended up Britain declaring war on Germany. This complex and worthless alliance system, which was made to prevent any war, has actually caused a vast and ineluctable war.
The cause of the Great War was the European nations’ militarism, the arms race, nationalism, for independence, imperialism, colonizing and building over sea empire, and alliance, which was useless, because it has not prevented the war but actually caused one. So, consequently, Germany was wrongly blamed of starting the war and other countries deserve the consequences too. Bibliography Count Szogyeny, reporting a famous conversation with the Kaiser. 2nd ed. N. p. : n. p. , n. d. Rpt. in GCSE-Modern World History. By Ben Welsh. London: Hodder Murray, 1996. Dreadnought. ” Wikipedia. 8 Sept. 2008. 14 Sept. 2008 . Count Szogyeny, reporting a famous conversation with the Kaiser. 2nd ed. N. p. : n. p. , n. d. Rpt. in GCSE-Modern World History. By Ben Welsh. London: Hodder Murray, 1996. “Origins of World War 1. ” Wikipedia. 9 Sept. 2008. 14 Sept. 2008 . “World War 1. ” Wikipedia. 12 Sept. 2008. 14 Sept. 2008 . “Source 13. ” Chart. GCES-Modern World History. 1996. By Ben Walsh. London: Hodder Murray, 2001. 8. “World War One Causes. ” History on the Net. 15 Mar. 2007. 14 Sept. 2008 .